Of all the reporters who ever covered Steve Jobs, nobody is more closely associated with the man than Brent Schlender. The former Fortune editor spoke with Jobs frequently for stories, over many years. He kept lots of tapes of their talks. And he recently rediscovered some of the cassettes, containing classic examples of Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs that have never been shared until now.
Earlier this week, Fast Company published an article by Schlender that included some choice Jobs quotes. Today, it’s releasing something better: an iPad edition of the magazine issue featuring Schlender’s story that includes more than half an hour of audio, including Jobs sound bites and new commentary by Schlender and Fast Company editor Rick Tetzeli. It’s $4.99 when bought as a single copy and should be available here shortly.
Some of the Jobs interviews date from one of the most interesting, least well-documented periods of his career: the years, between 1985 and 1997, when he was running NeXT and Pixar. During that time, he was alternately exuberant, spiteful, creative, gloomy about Apple and optimistic about his own future.
One memorable exchange from a July 1995 tape comes when Schlender asks Jobs if he’d ever go back to Apple. Jobs responds:
I still love Apple, but I mean, [CEO Michael] Spindler’s never called me once…
Schlender: “Not once? Not about anything?”
Never once…Oh, I’ve called him a few times but he never returns my calls…You can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again without a lot of work, and Spindler’s just not up to the task. But I don’t think it’s fair to fault him because he’s not up to the Herculean task of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. He’s doing better than many people would do…Not as good as I could do. But I’ll never get the chance.
Schlender: “There’s going to come a point when it’s just not there anymore.”
It’s pretty close to that point…I’ll tell you how I feel, I’ve thought about it a lot. Imagine you’re the mother of, you know, some bad kid…you know, you’re [serial killer] Jeffrey Dahmer’s mother. You’re the mother of some kid who’s, you know, turned into, you know, a robber, who’s robbed banks or something and is in jail. Do you still love him?
I don’t equate Apple with that, but in a way I do. You can never stop loving a kid. That’s how I feel.
“He was a great interview,” says Schlender at one point in the new audio, “because he was absolutely unscripted.” He sure was.